Swift & Co. partners with Optibr and to enhance Japanese beef promotions
Imagine information on the food you eat available literally at your fingertips. It is now possible to use your cell phone to scan a bar code on a package of meat and thereby access all the background information that led up to that product arriving in your home. As food traceability becomes more important to consumers, information delivery becomes critical to market success. Optibrand has partnered with Swift & Company, the U.S.’s third-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, to provide a traceability program that meets the rigorous demands of the Japanese market. For the first time, Japanese distributors and retailers will be able to offer U.S. beef with complete traceability information available via a bar code on the package. Consumers can retrieve the product’s supply chain history, from farm to retail shelf, by scanning the bar code with a cell phone or accessing the information online.
The combined technologies of Optibrand and Swift & Company make providing complete product traceability information possible. Optibrand’s Secure Asian Export Solution helps meet the demands of export customers by linking animal identification to age, source and process verification information. Swift’s Swift Trace program allows the processor to trace product from individual age- and source-verified cattle to finished boxed product.
“Together, we make available the complete product ‘story’ that, we believe, increases consumers’ trust in the food they’re purchasing,” said Mark Swanson, Optibrand’s chief operating officer. “Trust is key to repeat purchases for consumers worldwide.” The technology proved successful in field tests last month in Japan. The first cattle were enrolled into the program in the fall of 2006 and the first finished product was delivered to Japanese distributors in April of this year.
“The program’s successful field tests represent another step in enhancing the capabilities of our existing Swift Trace system,” said Warren Mirtsching, Swift’s senior vice president, Food Safety and Quality Assurance. “We are pleased to partner with Optibrand to demonstrate the efficacy of our combined technologies.”
Mark Anderson of Producers Livestock Marketing Association noted, “This is the type of system we, as feedlot operators, have been waiting for. In a cost-effective manner, we can now offer value-added programs on our cattle and to our customers for both the domestic and international markets.”
Anderson supplied cattle for the initial product shipments to Japan. “The Optibrand system marries all the data collected at individual points along the supply chain. Retailers who want to receive, and provide to their customers, the assurance gained with traceability information in an easy to use fashion, now have the opportunity with Optibrand’s system,” said Swanson.